Hawaii 2018, part 2: Volcano National Park

May 12th, 2018

Back when my husband and I visited Big Island in 2013, we went to Volcano National Park, but we made the mistake of not leaving enough time to fully explore it. This time, we went again with my family on day 3 of our trip, and we made sure to arrive earlier!

Like last time, we planned a couple of stops along the way. The first was Punaluu Black Sand Beach, which is known for both being a black sand beach and also being a place where sea turtles like to come up and bask. When we arrived, there were no sea turtles to be seen! We thought we were really unlucky this time around.

We stuck around for a bit though, taking photos and checking out the beach. That paid off because while we were there, a sea turtle started to come on land!


While sea turtles gracefully swim in the water, they’re not as smooth on land. The turtle would wait for the waves to come in before crawling, so that the waves could give it a little push forward. Once it was just far enough for the water to not touch it anymore, it immediately put its head down to take a nap!

Also, remember that if you ever see a sea turtle in the wild, please give it space and don’t touch it! I had to yell at tourists to step away from the turtle and give it some room. Seriously people, show nature a bit of respect.

After that, we backtracked a little to the Punaluu Bake Shop where we bought some food and yummy baked goods. Then we headed to the Volcano National Park! Big Island is the only Hawaiian island that still has an active volcano (which you’ve probably noticed from recent news), and it can be seen here.

We started by doing a couple walking trails near the visitor center, and then we headed to the Thurston Lava Tube – a lava tunnel that was formed by flowing lava a long time ago.

As we walked through the lava tube, my sister-in-law asked…

“Wait, where’s the lava?”
“We’re literally in it.”
“I thought there’d be live, flowing lava.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’d kill us.”

From there, we started on the Chain of Craters drive! This was the part that my husband and I didn’t have time for during our last Big Island trip. It’s a road that leads towards the ocean, going through old lava fields with overlooks and points of interest along the way.

We stopped at a few places, and it’s quite a sight to look out and see the barren black lava fields. It’s also amazing to see the bits of vegetation that has broken through and are living in the cracks.

Near the end of the trail, you can see the ocean and the Holei Sea Arch off of the side of the cliff.

On the way back up the road, we stopped by the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs, which is a short hike from the road. It’s a sacred place for Hawaiians, showing images carved into the hardened lava by travelers many years ago.

Shortly after walking back and getting into our mini van… it started raining! Fortunately, that was good timing since it hadn’t rained at all while we were out exploring, and after seeing the petroglyphs, we were ready to call it a day. We just had one more stop, so we drove up the Jagger Museum, where you can get a view of the active crater. Though, with the rain and fog, there was pretty much no visibility, so we couldn’t see much when we got there. We decided to leave and grab some Thai food for dinner on the way back to the hotel.

On day 4 of the trip, my brother wanted to do some hiking. He was thinking of going to Waipio Valley, and I also suggested that they check out Pololu Valley too. I knew both would be steep hikes down to the valley, and being pregnant, I felt I shouldn’t risk doing them. I told everyone to go on without me!

I spent the day just relaxing at the hotel, mostly reading by the pool and at our room’s balcony which faced the ocean. I didn’t feel like I was missing out since I had seen both valleys in a previous trip – Waipio from an overlook, and I’ve hiked down to Pololu. It actually felt kind of nice to just have a relaxing day!

2013 photo – Waipio from a lookout

2013 photo – Pololu Valley

When everyone got back, we swam in the pool together for a bit before heading to a nearby sushi place for dinner. The other downside of being pregnant is that I can’t eat raw fish, so I had to stick to rolls and nigiri with cooked pieces.

Next up, I’ll write about a couple unique snorkeling experiences I hadn’t done before. But first! I’m going to take a slight break from Hawaii entries to write about other things that have been going on lately :)

7 Responses to “Hawaii 2018, part 2: Volcano National Park”

  • Nancy says:

    I’m glad you guys got to explore the Volcano National Park this time around! Wow, the beach looks gorgeous – even with the hardened lava. The turtles are so cute! The last thing we would want to do is freak out a turtle or any other wildlife.

    Wow, the Thurston Lava Tube looks pretty cool. It looks like a hideout place!

    It’s pretty cool that you guys got to do some hiking! I had a hard time hiking when I was out in Hawaii but it was still fun. Yum, your sushi looks delicious!

  • Kayla says:

    Oh wow, looks so fascinating and beautiful! I’d love to get there one day. Absolutely cracked up at the conversation with your sister-in-law :P Glad you all had a great time!

  • Georgie says:

    I think I just freaked out when you said you can’t have raw fish because you are pregnant WHAT ARE YOU TELLING ME CAT? I CANNOT HAVE SASHIMI?! I never want to get pregnant now 😂 joking joking. You must feel at least a bit bummed by that though!

    As usual your photos are beautiful and I love the sea turtle one. I’m glad you got to see one come up from the waves! 🐢

    I have to admit it would have bothered me a lot seeing people not leaving the turtle alone. 😞 It reminds me of the shopping centre under my apartment – a lot of people in our area own dogs, and tie them to a pillar outside the entrance of the shopping centre while they grab their groceries. A lot of young people (mostly international students, ugh) go up and pet the dogs and touch them repeatedly and take selfies and photos with the dogs when the owner is not there. It infuriates me because I can see the dogs getting extremely anxious because of the strangers, I’ve seen some of them bark with rage, and Nick also mentioned that he saw someone put a sign next to their dog saying “do not touch, it’s not your dog”. It makes me angry because, yes, a dog is a creature and should be treated with respect and not “played with”, but it feels like they are disrespecting the owner as well. I think it’s gross behaviour… 😢 I know that sounds really mean to say about people who don’t know better, but they really should know better!

    The Lava Tube looks incredible…! I have no words. I’d be so captivated walking through that. (I will definitely try to make time for it when I visit Hawaii, because I want to one day!) The black lava fields definitely remind me of the lava tour I went on in Indonesia a few years ago. The surface of the land had been affected the same way.

    LOL I remember when my uncle in Indonesia was telling me about the lava tour, I had the same sort of reaction as your sister-in-law. I said “we will see LAVA????” and he was like “…no… not the lava… it is called a lava tour… but you see what it looks like after the lava affected the land” 😂

    I honestly love hiking! I’m glad you didn’t feel like you missed out though, and enjoyed a relaxing day.

    • Cat says:

      Yes, sorry to bring bad news, but it’s not recommended to eat raw or undercooked foods while pregnant! I’ve been without sushi for months now! :( It’s because it’s easier for women to get sick or get foodborne illnesses while pregnant. I’m also supposed to limit the amount of seafood I eat due to the amounts of mercury in some fish.

      I totally agree with you about how people act around animals! They should show them the same respect and give them space, instead of assuming that they can touch them or be near them.

      Thanks for your comment, Georgie!

  • Rox says:

    OMG that place looks amazing! And there’s even a turtle! Thank you for reminding your readers not to touch animals in their natural habitat. Touching them and interacting with them carelessly might stress them out. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip!

    Rox | Transcendent Light 🌱

  • Pauline says:

    I loved reading the part about the sea turtle, how cute! Taking mini-naps before it gets the boost from the sea. I CANT MY HEART IS SCREAMING. Thank you for reminding us not to touch them, I can imagine it being very stressful if tourists just came up on their space.

    Hahaha what your sister in law said is something I would say hahah!! I’m glad you got to visit the Volcano National Park, that looks and sounds so incredible! What an experience.

    Relaxing days are always so nice whilst on vacation. I think we always get caught up in exploring but sometimes a day off is what we need!

  • Michelle says:

    Sea turtles~ That is totally awesome to see something so beautiful and majestic like them. But that Volcano National Park sounds cool and even a bit frightening, yet, I am glad that you had a great time.

    I certainly would do the things you did if I went on vacation there.
    Volcanoes are interesting, honestly.

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